ANZAC is not merely about loss. It is about courage, and endurance, and duty, and love of country, and mateship, and good humour and the survival of a sense of self-worth and decency in the face of dreadful odds.
This [Gallipoli] was not the Anzacs’ bloodiest campaign of that war. The casualties in France overwhelmed those of Gallipoli. But it was the ﬁrst. And it was heroic even in failure. And what makes it unique is that it was here the people of our countries – Australia and New Zealand – found their nationhood.
Sir William Deane’s Address to the Dawn Service,
ANZAC Cove on 25 April 1999
The Anzacs at Gallipoli set the standard by which Australians and New Zealanders who have served during almost a century of wars and peacekeeping operations measure themselves.
In 1915, both countries were still developing the foundational stories that have helped shape our national identities. This first test in battle on the world stage has become one of the key stories that has helped guide how our spirit and character, as nations, has developed in the century since.
War is dreadful and important in equal measure; how we fare in the face of the worst guides how we know we can be at our best.
The Anzac Spirit is one of:
- Integrity and sacrifice, as evidenced by the more than 11,430 ANZAC soldiers who died at Gallipoli, all of whom had volunteered for service.
- Mateship and teamwork, seen in the way troops lived and struggled together in training and on the battlefield.
- Initiative, evidenced by the troops time and again rising to meet situations without waiting for new orders or commands.
- Courage and perseverance, shown throughout eight long months of bloody fighting on Gallipoli.
- Dedication to duty, demonstrated by the endurance of those who served through the years of war and by those who volunteered even after the ever-lengthening casualty lists became a regular feature in Australian newspapers.
- A sense of humour that sustained soldiers in the trenches, and which was expressed in letters home to loved ones.
Australians to this day believe that our servicemen and women carry on the values and traditions of the original Anzacs. But it is not just in the Australian Defence Force that it is in evidence; the ideals of courage, mateship and endurance continue to characterise our response to hard times almost a century after the landings on the Gallipoli peninsula.
Men would rather die than let a mate down.
Australian historian present at the Anzac Gallipoli landing